January 25, 2018

Why Magicians Turn to Neuroscience

Season 2, Episode 11

Children who learn simple magic tricks probably don’t expect to relearn them in college. That was certainly the case for Dr. Anthony Barnhart, who became a budding illusionist at age seven. Sure enough, Dr. Barnhart now works with fellow magic-loving Psychologists at Barrow Neurological Institute. He’s written books, performed acts and given talks in the name of Neuroscience—all with a sleight of hand. Hear more of Dr. Barnhart’s story, and how he puts theories of magic to the scientific test at Carthage College.


Guest Biography

Anthony Barnhart is an Assistant Professor of Psychological Science at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  He received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Arizona State University, where he began his graduate career with the intention of being a language researcher. To this end, he has published research examining the processes underlying handwritten word perception, a domain that has been largely ignored by psychologists. However, Tony is also a part-time professional magician with over 20 years of performing experience. His research trajectory changed in 2010 with the publication of the book Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about our Everyday Deceptions, in which he was featured as a consultant and teacher on the science of stage magic. The scientific interest that the book garnered motivated Tony to shift his focus toward the interface of science and magic. His current research on the topic explores inattentional blindness and the techniques magicians use to manipulate attentional deployment in time. He regularly teaches a college course devoted to the cognitive science of magic. More information is available at www.AnthonyBarnhart.com.

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